The liner notes that accompany this collection note that '70s soul music has never really gotten its due. One could argue that point for days, but hubris aside, there's no denying that Can You Dig It pays serious homage to the golden years of American soul. The new box set contains 6 CDs and 136 cuts, 65 of which hit the No. 1 spot on the R&B and/or pop charts. As you'd expect with a project that mines such a rich era (the CDs are compiled chronologically), it represents a who's who of stars. Among the notables: Marvin Gaye, Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, the Spinners, the O'Jays, the Staple Singers, James Brown, Chairmen of the Board, Laura Lee, Freda Payne, and Jean Knight. Lesser lights also get to shine, i.e., El Chicano, who deliver the salsafied hippie anthem "Tell Her She's Lovely." But let's be honest–the selling point is the hits, and from the uplifting "Ooh Child" to the sassy "Want Ads," if you grew up in the '70s (hands up), then these tracks are beloved. Sure, the hard-core fan will probably wish for more obscurities, and the exclusion of Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and George Clinton is troublesome, but anyone wanting an at-home jukebox loaded with classic R&B will certainly dig this.
The collection is produced by the band, with all surviving members contributing to song selection. Ocasek also supervised digital remastering of all the audio with Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound. The collection features the band s big hits along with a rare, single mix for I m Not The One, as well as a live version of Everything You Say, and a new mix by producer Philippe Zdar of Sad Song, a track from the band s last album, 2011 s Move Like This.
The tracks on The Best of the Chieftains are drawn from The Chieftains 7, The Chieftains 8, and Boil the Breakfast Early–three of the band's recordings from the late 1970s. This was the period when former Bothy Band and Planxty flautist Matt Molloy and vocalist/bodhran player Kevin Cunniffe joined up and finally fulfilled Paddy Maloney's vision of what the band should sound like. It also marks the last time the Chieftains recorded pure, unadulterated traditional Irish music.
This 19-track compilation focuses on Elmore James' crucial sessions recorded for the Modern Records subsidiaries Meteor and Flair between 1952 and 1956. At the time of these recordings, the distorted amplified sound of James' slide guitar with his unmistakable electrified Robert Johnson lick was helping map out the postwar blues idiom with such classics as "I Believe," "Blues Before Sunrise," "Wild About You," "Mean & Evil," and the extraordinary reworking of Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom" into "Dust My Blues." Even though roughly half of these tracks appear on the equally recommended 1986 Ace release Let's Cut It: The Very Best of Elmore James, this set is a great introduction to the dynamic slide guitarist's earliest recordings.
Respectfully known as the "king of light music,"Eric Coates was one of England's greatest composers. A prolific writer, Coates wrote pieces for orchestras, chamber groups, and solo pianists. In addition to penning more than 160 ballads, he composed numerous instrumental settings for the poetry of William Shakespeare and other British poets. His many radio themes included the theme of the popular BBC radio show Calling All Workers, which aired four times a day, five days a week. Coates made his orchestral debut in 1911 when his composition "Miniature Suite" was performed by the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra under the direction of Sir Henry Wood. Coates played viola with the orchestra during the premiere. Although he wrote his most enduring tune, "Stonecracker John," in 1909, Coates enjoyed a revival of his popularity in the late '20s when his songs "Birdsongs at Eventide" and "Homeward to You" became major hits. He remained active until shortly before his death in 1957, composing "The Dam Busters March" and "High Flight" for popular early-'50s films.